2018 Kia Niro PHEV: 50+ MPG Crossover Gets a Larger Battery Pack, 26 Miles of All-Electric Range [Review]

2018 Niro


The new 2018 Kia Niro over into the new model year with only minor enhancements in trim level packaging. There are five progressive trim models on the standard hybrid: the base FE, LX, EX, and Touring. However, this year also adds Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) model. The Plug-in Hybrid comes in three trim levels – LX, EX and EX Premium – and starts from $28,840, including destination charges.

A new limited-production PHEV model is the Niro Graphite Edition, featuring an exclusive Platinum Graphite exterior paint color, 18-inch gloss black wheels and roof rails, a metallic grille insert, a Harman Kardon premium audio with subwoofer, an 8-inch touchscreen navigation and a 10-way power driver’s seat.

2018 Niro

Visually, the 2018 Kia Niro is unmistakably recognizable as a member of the Kia family, with styling cues borrowed from the larger Kia Sedona and smaller Kia Soul. Despite its more diminutive size, the Niro provides a comfortable and spacious cabin for five occupants and their gear.

The Kia Niro PHEV displays wide and low proportions with a long wheelbase and short overhangs yield in an athletic stance, while aggressively shaped headlights and a new execution of Kia’s tiger nose grille, defining the front theme. The Niro’s profile showcases strong shoulders, defined wheel arches, rocker-panel cladding, and roof rails. The sporty rear image is enabled by its wide stance, rear skid plate, and multi-element horizontal LED tail lamp graphic.

2018 Kia Niro PHEV
[Photo: Kia]


Moving to the interior, the instrument panel is uncluttered and clean, with colorful and informative gauges at the forefront and perfectly positioned primary and secondary controls falling readily to hand. It’s also practical, despite its small size and hybrid powertrain. Kia’s engineers positioned the 8.9 kWh battery pack underneath the rear seats. That increases cabin and cargo space, and it provides a flat load floor. In addition to its spaciousness, engineers also focused on noise and vibration to make the 2018 Kia Niro as quiet and comfortable as possible.

2018 Kia Niro PHEV
The 2018 Kia Niro PHEV is reasonably practical, given its small size. [Photo: Kia]
On the connectivity front, the 2018 Kia Niro PHEV comes well-equipped with everything you’d need. Kia’s standard UVO3 with a 7.0-inch touchscreen includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, navigation and a Harman Kardon premium audio system. Wireless charging for your personal devices is standard fare.

LX models of the 2018 Kia Niro PHEV come standard with keyless ignition, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Smart Cruise Control. EX models get Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Finally, the EX Premium adds heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, LED lights and a front and rear Parking Assist system.

2018 Niro


The motive force for the 2018 Kia Niro PHEV comes from a 1.6-liter Atkinson cycle engine coupled with a 360-volt electric motor. The power produced by the combined hybrid system is 139 horsepower with 195 lb-ft of torque. Energy is geared to the front driving wheels through a six-speed Dual Clutch Transmission. The electric motor alone delivers 60 horsepower, so acceleration on EV power alone isn’t exactly blistering, but it helps in stop-and-go traffic. The 2018 Kia Niro PHEV offers 26 miles of all-electric range.

On the driving front, the Niro serves up an extraordinarily normal experience. It’s reasonably quick off the line and power delivery is smooth throughout the rev range. Handling characteristics are sporty with a spot-on steering feedback and response. The Niro’s regenerative braking system delivers a more consistent and linear feel than you may expect from a hybrid. Kia engineers designed the Niro’s system to seamlessly blend in hydraulic friction braking.

2018 Kia Niro PHEV
[Photo: Kia]


The 2018 Kia Niro PHEV is an eye-pleasing, compact, wagon-like, urban hybrid that is not only affordable, but also versatile and practical. It’s also one of the most efficient hybrids available in today’s marketplace. EPA mileage estimates for the Kia Niro Touring are 51 mpg city, and 46 mpg Highway with a range of 583 miles.

Come back to TFLcar.com for more news, views, and real-world hybrid reviews! To see more on the standard Kia Niro hybrid, check out the video below. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow on YouTube for more content published throughout the week.


On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $34,500
Price as Tested:
Engine: 1.6-liter naturally aspirated inline-four
Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely mounted front engine, front-wheel drive
Horsepower: Engine: 104 hp @ 5,700 RPM

Combined System Output: 139 hp

Torque: Engine: 109 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM

Combined System Output: 195 lb-ft

Transmission: Six-speed Dual Clutch Transmission w/ Sport Mode
Suspension: Front: Independent MacPherson struts, with gas twin tube shocks and stabilizer bar

Rear:  Independent Multi-link with gas twin-tube shocks

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) w/ regenerative braking
Tires: Michelin Energy Saver P205/60 R18 91Y all-season
Fuel capacity: 11.9 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 51 City / 46 Highway MPG

Estimated range: 583 miles


Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 171.5 inches
Width: 71.1 inches
Height: 60.8 inches w/ roof rails
Turning Circle: 17.4 feet
Curb Weight: 3,161 pounds